ST. PETERSBURG, Florida—A pair of bills are moving through Florida’s legislature which may impact shark conservation and shark anglers in Florida.
HB 401 and SB 680 from Rep. Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek) and Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) – are planning to ban the possession and sale of shark fins on a state level. In an effort to appease local fishing businesses, lawmakers added an amendment excluding commercial fishermen who currently have federal shark fishing permits from the export ban until Jan. 1, 2025.
Shark-finning was banned nationwide in 2000 by then-president Bill Clinton. Shark-finning involves cutting the fins off of live sharks, then dumping the fish back in the water and leaving them to drown or bleed to death. Many states since then have also banned the import, export and sale of fins, which is different from finning but nonetheless controversial.
Robert Hueter, director of the Sarasota-based Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research, told The Associated Press banning the import and export of fins in Florida will merely push the illegal trade underground, preventing regulation, and promote wastefulness by forcing local fishermen to throw away the fins on the sharks they catch.
Meanwhile, Over 150 scientists signed a letter in 2017 urging Congress to pass the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act, which would have banned the trade of shark fins nationwide.
Florida’s SB 680 has a scheduled hearing in the Rules Committee while HB 401 is slated for a second reading in the House.